Wimbledon To Return With 25% Spectators Capacity
By Taruka Srivastav | April 28, 2021
The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) outlined its aspiration to kick off the British summer of sport in style with the return of The Championships in 2021.
Chairman Ian Hewitt commented: “I would like to say how excited we are that Wimbledon will be back this summer, with the best tennis players in the world competing on our grass courts, in front of our passionate spectators. While it will, necessarily, be different from Wimbledon as we know it, we are full of enthusiasm and totally committed to our return following last year’s cancellation.”
Chief Executive Sally Bolton added: “We would like to thank all those with whom we continue to work across government, public health and other sporting bodies for their support to make this a reality, to bring back sporting events in the way that we all recognise. Our priority has and will always be to do this safely, with the support and trust of all our stakeholders.”
We are currently working to a spectator capacity position of around 25%, based on the current Sports Grounds Safety Authority guidance, but we will remain flexible as we await the outcome of the government’s Event Research Programme and clarity on the likelihood of restrictions relaxing beyond 21 June.
Bolton added: “We very much hope 25% is a minimum position from which we can build – it is our absolute desire to enable as many people as possible to safely attend The Championships this year. At the heart of our thinking is the intention to create the mix of spectators for which Wimbledon is known, while also working hard to protect the financial performance of The Championships, including the surplus that we deliver for the benefit of British tennis.”
Looking beyond 2021, the AELTC also announced a significant development to enhance The Championships, and open up tennis, for the future. From 2022, to coincide with the centenary of Centre Court, Middle Sunday will become a permanent part of the tournament schedule, turning The Championships into a 14-day event.
Hewitt commented: “Thanks to improved grass court technology and maintenance over the past five years or so and other measures, we are comfortable that we are able to look after the courts, most particularly Centre Court, without a full day of rest.
“This provides us with the opportunity, at an important time, to enhance the accessibility, reach and fanbase of Wimbledon, and tennis, both in the UK and globally. It will also ensure greater resilience and fairness of the tournament programme for our competitors, and enable us to create a different kind of atmosphere on the Middle Sunday, with a strong focus on the local community in particular. To be able to launch this new tradition at the same time as celebrating the history of Centre Court in 2022 is something we look forward to immensely.”
On the longer-term horizon, the AELTC shared an update on the public consultation process for the AELTC Wimbledon Park Project, which aspires to unite our landholdings either side of Church Road to deliver a beautiful venue that pays tribute to the heritage of the landscape, provides significant benefit to the local community, and enables The Championships to remain at the pinnacle of the sport.
Hewitt commented: “We believe these proposals represent an enormous opportunity for The Championships and will be of great benefit to our two local boroughs, and generally to London, the UK, and beyond.”
The AELTC will be seeking the views of all those who wish to share their feedback on the future of Wimbledon through a survey, launched today, to ensure that those who have an interest in, and are passionate about The Championships, are helping to shape our future.